Dr Phil: Bed-wetting (video)
Hello there, I’m Dr Phil, can you guess what we are going to be talking about today? Yes that’s right, bed-wetting, well done.
Four things you need to remember about bed-wetting:
- it is very common
- nobody does it on purpose, so blaming people is completely pointless it only makes it worse
- it nearly always gets better in time
- if it is not getting better on its own there are treatments available so you do not need to suffer in silence.
Now to understand bed-wetting you need to understand where urine comes from. This turkey baster [represents] my kidneys and my ureter, which is the tube that leads down from the kidneys into the bladder, ‘Henry’ is my bladder. You don’t have to call your bladder Henry, it is entirely optional, in fact my bladder is called ‘P Diddy’, but Henry is actually the commonest name for a bladder. Normally you have two kidneys, I’ve only got the one because I have only got one turkey baster – I only ever baste one turkey at a time! You could have two kidneys and they are both feeding urine and waste products down into Henry during the day and during the night. Henry fills up and when Henry feels full there is a little gate on his nose that opens and urine passes out your urethra, which is this tube that comes out either through the end of your penis or just above your vagina depending what sex you are.
The crucial thing about wetting the bed is learning to get control over Henry’s nose. Henry has a gate in his nose and he should tell your brain when he wants to open that gate. So if you wet the bed at night it means that Henry has opened his gate without telling you. So the secret is to get/regain the control over the gate in Henry’s nose. Most people do eventually, a lot of kids wet the bed up to the age of 2 and then they gradually learn to get dry during the day. Up to the age of 5 most kids are dry at night, but quite a few aren’t and then about 1 in a 100 when you get into your mid-teens are still wetting the bed. It is still a pretty common problem, but because it gets better with time you don’t necessarily need any drug treatment. What you first need to do is to understand it and not to blame anyone and to think of strategies/ways of dealing with it, for example, waterproof covers and easily washable mattresses.
One of the big panics is often when you want to go and stay away i.e. sleep away for a few nights. There are a couple of tactics, which can help – you can get yourself a sleeping bag to sleep in, polyester something that is easily washable. Wear some pajamas as well so if you have an accident you can very quickly wrap everything up, i.e. the pajamas into the sleeping bag and pop them in the wash. Always have your clothes near by so that you can get dressed fairly quickly. Just occasionally when people are going away on a big trip for a few days the doctor might prescribe a drug called Desmopressin, it sounds very fancy, but it just stops the body from producing so much urine at night so the bladder doesn’t fill up.
Basically you will learn to get control of your bladder in time. Some parents lift their child during the night. There is no evidence that this actually reduces bed-wetting, but it does reduce the amount of urine that may be left during the night. Another tactic if things are not sorting themselves out on their own is to go to the doctor and ask whether you can use an alarm, there is an excellent charity called ERIC, look them up on internet (www.eric.org.uk) they will tell you about alarms. Basically, the alarm sensor is worn on your pants and then you wear a little alarm in your pajamas (you can get one that makes a noise or vibrates). If there is a little bit of wetness on the sensor it will set the alarm off and that will make you get up and wet the bed, I mean it will stop you wetting the bed!
Other things you can do is to drink quite a bit of water during the day. It sounds as if it is the wrong thing to do, but actually letting your bladder learn how to control volumes of urine is actually a good way of training it. If you drink plenty during the day, gradually you will learn that sensation of the bladder being full. It is often when you are young and in a really deep sleep that you don’t actually hear Henry’s nose needing to be open, but actually if you drink during the day you understand what it feels like to actually go to the loo, often that is a good message to tell you to get up.There are other ways that you can make it easy; have a toilet near by, make sure there is easy access to get to the toilet, so obviously if you sleep in bunk beds sleep on the bottom bunk.
There is plenty of other good information on this website (www.embarrassingproblems.com),plenty of good information on the ERIC website (www.eric.org.uk) and information about me on drphilhammond.com.
Thank you for listening, ‘bye’ says Henry.
Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Tuesday, January 11th 2011
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